How to Unfreeze Pipes in 5 Steps

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Knowing how to thaw frozen pipes may allow you to correct the problem before a burst or leak occurs.

Frozen pipes can burst from a buildup of water pressure caused by ice blockage, and damage caused by frozen pipes that burst or leak can cost you up to $5,000.

Here are 5 steps to prevent a frozen pipe from turning into an expensive disaster.

#1: Check the Pipes

Turn on the faucet. If only a trickle comes out — or nothing at all — you likely have ice blockage somewhere in the pipe leading to that faucet.

Frozen sections of pipe may also have frost on the outside or a slight bulge indicating ice buildup.

#2: Keep Faucets Open

If you suspect a frozen pipe, leave the faucet open. If you have separate hot and cold handles, open them both.

Running water flowing through the pipe helps the ice melt. In addition, opening the faucet relieves pressure inside the pipe, lowering your risk of a burst or leak.

#3: Apply Heat

If you know where the blockage is located, melting the ice is the best way to relieve pressure so that water flows freely through the pipe.

  • If the frozen section is accessible, you can use an electric hair dryer, portable space heater, heating pad or hot towels to raise the temperature.
  • Begin heating close to the faucet, so that melting ice and steam can escape instead of building up even more pressure inside the pipe.
  • Be careful not to let any electrical appliances come into contact with water.
  • If you cannot get to a frozen section of pipe because it is concealed behind a wall, turn up your thermostat — warming the whole house will help the ice melt more quickly.
  • Don’t use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater or other open flame device, as this creates a fire hazard and puts your safety at unnecessary risk.

#4: Watch for Leaks

There is always a chance that cracks have already formed in the pipe, and these may only become apparent after the ice melts.

Be sure to have a mop, bucket and towels close at hand before you begin the thawing process, just in case a leak appears.

#5: When to Call a Plumber

In some cases, you can correct a frozen pipe yourself if you know where the ice blockage, it is accessible to available heat sources and no burst or leakage occurs.

Contact Elite Renovations & Design if you can’t locate or reach the frozen area, or if a pipe bursts causing water damage.

Our licensed plumbers will know how to correct the problem, fix the damage and help you prevent frozen pipes in the future.